Background: Oral chemotherapy is increasingly used in place of traditional intravenous chemotherapy to treat patients with cancer. While oral chemotherapy includes benefits such as ease of administration, convenience, and minimization of invasive infusions, patients receive less oversight, support, and symptom monitoring from clinicians. Additionally, adherence is a well-documented challenge for patients with cancer prescribed oral chemotherapy regimens. With the ever-growing presence of smartphones and potential for efficacious behavioral intervention technology, we created a mobile health intervention for medication and symptom management.
Objective: The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate the usability and acceptability of a smartphone app to support adherence to oral chemotherapy and symptom management in patients with cancer.
Methods: We used a 5-step development model to create a comprehensive mobile app with theoretically informed content. The research and technical development team worked together to develop and iteratively test the app. In addition to the research team, key stakeholders including patients and family members, oncology clinicians, health care representatives, and practice administrators contributed to the content refinement of the intervention. Patient and family members also participated in alpha and beta testing of the final prototype to assess usability and acceptability before we began the randomized controlled trial.
Results: We incorporated app components based on the stakeholder feedback we received in focus groups and alpha and beta testing. App components included medication reminders, self-reporting of medication adherence and symptoms, an education library including nutritional information, Fitbit integration, social networking resources, and individually tailored symptom management feedback. We are conducting a randomized controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of the app in improving adherence to oral chemotherapy, quality of life, and burden of symptoms and side effects. At every stage in this trial, we are engaging stakeholders to solicit feedback on our progress and next steps.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, we are the first to describe the development of an app designed for people taking oral chemotherapy. The app addresses many concerns with oral chemotherapy, such as medication adherence and symptom management. Soliciting feedback from stakeholders with broad perspectives and expertise ensured that the app was acceptable and potentially beneficial for patients, caregivers, and clinicians. In our development process, we instantiated 7 of the 8 best practices proposed in a recent review of mobile health app development. Our process demonstrated the importance of effective communication between research groups and technical teams, as well as meticulous planning of technical specifications before development begins. Future efforts should consider incorporating other proven strategies in software, such as gamification, to bolster the impact of mobile health apps. Forthcoming results from our randomized controlled trial will provide key data on the effectiveness of this app in improving medication adherence and symptom management.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02157519; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02157519 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6prj3xfKA).
Keywords: ambulatory monitoring; antineoplastic agents; mHealth; medication adherence; mobile apps; neoplasms; self-administration; software design; telemedicine.
©Joel Nathan Fishbein, Lauren Ellen Nisotel, James John MacDonald, Nicole Amoyal Pensak, Jamie Michele Jacobs, Clare Flanagan, Kamal Jethwani, Joseph Andrew Greer. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (http://www.researchprotocols.org), 20.04.2017.